Maybe I'll Get to Wear a Lanyard

Great news! I landed a job at FaceBurger!

This is going to be sooooo great. They're owned by Greenberg Absorption, which is owned by United Breathing Unlimited, which in turn is a holding company controlled by the shadowy Brotherhood of the Goat, a mysterious cadre of men working behind the scenes of Earth's population to promote political chaos and social confusion. So you know the infrastructure for success is totally there!

They told us at the job fair that the three corporate goals of FaceBurger are 1) to comply with the dictionary definition of the word 'food' each and every day, 2) to financially support the Sinister Lemon People's occupation of the neighboring Tantor galaxy, and 3) to protect the company's assets from employee theft through twenty-four hour x-ray videography of its workers. When I signed Document Saturn, I agreed to submit to a qualified team of private investigators who will occasionally demand an updated bowel history and a full inventory of my personal effects both at work and at home.

As reward for my hard work and refusal to cave in to the meddling demands of the FDA, the company is giving me the most awesome fringe benefits! There's a standard employee meal discount of up to five percent off any meat-similar item which takes effect immediately upon beginning my thirtieth year of full-time service. (The meal discount is not applicable on any nationally recognized weekday.) Another benefit, which they'll give me upon completion of my fortieth year of perfect attendance, is full use of the staff bathroom! Through the first few years, I have to provide my own sanitary facilities, and I can't use their coin-operated emergency exits without permission. Violation of this rule might result in termination of my employment and surgical removal of my weaker eye.

It gets better! Despite rumor-mongering media reports to the contrary, FaceBurger cares about the public health. Their managers honor all judicial orders to wash their hands, and they forbid the re-use of food products that come into contact with the kitchen floor and are spotted there by at least three customers. Plus, we're not expected to work more than a double shift if we contract any major Hanta virus or suffer instant brain liquification from Ebola G or V.

Service is their main concern at FaceBurger, and I can't wait to show them my stuff! They told us to always remember that the customer is both our friend and sometime silent partner in a Bangkok firm known to perplexed federal agents only as The Storefront. They expect that we behave as courteously toward the customer as we would toward our own parole officer or split personality. In fact, if we get into a tiff with a customer and our account of the problem doesn't jibe with FaceBurger's audio, video, and thermal monitoring, we're called before a secret tribunal of cryogenically preserved heads to beg for forgiveness and offer any deal, no matter how repulsive, to salvage what remains of our cankered soul. Tough, but fair!

Well, there are literally thousands of other handy rules and regulations I'll have to memorize before I start on Friday, but really, all I can think of right now is two awesome words: free soda! This is going to rock.


It's All Very Funny Until Somebody Loses an Elbow

So this guy Johnathan Harker comes into my office yesterday to talk about his upcoming case, which, in all honesty, does not look good. The villagers want to see somebody ride Old Sparky for killing the Count, and let's face it, Harker's prints are all over the murder weapon.

His alibi is the worst problem. He says that this creature, this "vamp pie"----or maybe it's "vampire", I forget----is hundreds of years old, and can change into a bat at any time. Now if that's true, why didn't he just kind of flip and flop around inside his coffin when Harker opened it up? I mean, I can't even kill an inert fly without a sophisticated sighting mechanism. Then Harker claims that he had to drive a stake through the guy's heart as the sun rose, or he would live eternally. So I guess if I chopped Dracula up into thirty thousand pieces with a Cuisinart and left the pieces at Ground Zero in Los Alamos, he'd just pop back into shape like a Nerf ball? Right.

The thing that disturbs me most is Harker's rap sheet. 1887: He shot a man he claimed was turning into a werewolf, and it turned out the guy was just itchy. 1889: He claimed the illness of a twelve year old girl in Georgetown was due to demonic possession, when in fact, she had simply eaten too many brownies. And then last year, he boosted a chamberpot from the Vienna Marriott.

Now listen, I can understand this kind of behavior from a young kid. Hell, when I was eighteen I was probably dropping wolfsbane every night and staking everything that moved, but after the age of thirty, if someone causes you a problem, you don't just find yourself a lathe and start cranking out the instant bypass sticks! And for God's sake, apparently vampires can't even enter your home unless you invite them in! Harker's ready to take a flamethrower to the kid who comes around to collect for the March of Dimes, but he can't seem to keep the evil undead out of his foyer.

What I have to do with this guy, I think, is separate him in the jury's minds from this Van Helsing nut and make it seem like Harker was just the patsy in this whole affair, a crazy kid who thought it would be a kooky lark to pursue the Prince of Darkness across two continents in a quest to put an end to his reign of supernatural tyranny. He refuses to cop a plea, even though I could get him off with ten, fifteen years tops---he could be out of jail by the time the Depression hits. I'd have him plead insanity, but I don't have to tell you how we treat the mentally disturbed in this century. I had a client once say on the stand that he sometimes felt sad over his grandmother's death, and they had that bastard's frontal lobe in a beaker before lunchtime.

I told Harker honestly that what I saw when I looked at this case was a bunch of dorky white momma's boys who got liquored up and spooked by too many episodes of Tales from the Darkside and who got up there on the Borgo Pass with a few wolves and gypsies and just snapped their cap. Guess what? Mr. Dracula has no prior arrests for draining the blood from his victims to achieve eternal life. (He does have one indecent exposure rap on him; apparently he dropped his pants in a Radio Shack once on a dare from this troublemaker called Renfield. Don't even get me started on that walking straitjacket. I'm bailing him out of the clink every three days; he's intent on putting the entire insect kingdom into a shot glass.)

So, yes, it's been a tough week at the firm, to say the least. Now that I come to think of it, I may not even be licensed in any way to practice law. Sometimes I look at the degrees on my wall and it's sort of obvious that I'm really just a cooper. You got any anvils you need sanded?


I Am Mature, Despite What The San Francisco Chronicle Says

I would like to use this special Memorial Day blog entry to apologize for my recent comments about ex-Presidents Gerald Ford and Martin Van Buren. Contrary to my initial claims, further research has shown there is absolutely no evidence that either statesman ever really considered using treasury resources to fund research for the creation of a giant Babe Net.


Wrong Line of Work, or Are My Issues Deeper?

Mr. Keebler came into the hospital Friday for a partial lipid bypass---no laughing matter, right? Definitely not something you should take lightly. So we did a full pre-op workup, knocked him out, wheeled him off into the operating room, and three hours later he was waking up groggy and weirded out by the anaesthesia. (We had decided to go with a general instead of a local. Some surgeons would disagree with this, but I assure you, Mr. Keebler's body weight more than made it safe.) I was standing right beside his bed when he awoke, and he asked me how the operation had gone. Well, I thought for a moment, and then I took a deep breath, and I tried to describe to him how his flaboid count was at a manageable level now because we were able to tie off the superior wall of the anterior palpus with minimal difficulty, and how his Osment valve was now nice and firmly square with the lower stem of his cell flume, which was going to essentially make his left lung three to five years younger than it was as long as he didn't put any undue stress on his gludials....and then I just stopped and lost it, and started giggling. I had to be completely honest with him. I know it's the strangest and dopiest thing ever, but we didn't do any operation on him. We'd gotten him into the O.R. with every intention of performing the surgery, but for whatever reason, we all just started trying to explain to Nurse Easterly what "jumping the shark" meant, because she'd never heard the phrase or even known about that episode of "Happy Days" where the Fonz did that stupid stunt, and that progressed into us talking about our favorite episodes of "WKRP in Cincinnati", and then out of nowhere, Dr. McBeame said, "Hey, who here has absolutely ZERO interest in doing any stupid surgery today?" and all our hands shot up simultaneously, and that just made us all bust out laughing, and we just could not go on. And Nurse Easterly kept goading me, saying "Just tie up his robe again and push him right back to his room, it'll be hilarious!" So now, standing beside Mr. Keebler's bed, I told him the story, except I couldn't help but giggle through it even as I apologized to him, and his face got so red with anger, like an apple almost, that I got into another laughing jag, this one complete with tears running down my cheeks. I must have said I was sorry five hundred times to the man, and I swore on my grandmother's grave that we really would do the operation on Monday (which, no fooling, we will), and I backed out of the room.

Was that immature, what I did? I probably shouldn't be so irresponsible, right? The Board told me when I was growing sea monkeys in that one patient's I.V. bottle that I had one last chance to straighten up and fly right. They were serious, too, let me tell you.

Yeah, now that I think about it, the Mr. Keebler thing was really bad. All I can say is, it was a Friday.


Oh, and Parking Near Golgotha is Totally Impossible

I love how sometimes I try to be really nice and yet I wind up being the "bad guy". I gave Jesus a call the other day, just to say I was really sorry about that whole crucifixion thing those people pulled on him. You know, just to check in and make it clear that I was really against that kind of thing, and to ask him if he needed anything, like if I was going someplace near him I could pick something up. But he sounded all cold and distant and unimpressed.

Now look, I tried to send a card when it happened. I can prove it, too. I went all the way down to Walgreen's and I looked around and around for a sympathy card, but they didn't have any good ones except for an Opus the Penguin one which was kind of ruined with the quote on the inside because it was about George Bush, so I bought a blank card with autumn leaves all over it and I wrote a really nice note inside about how I know it must have royally sucked to go through a crucifixion and all, and he was my pal and he should know I was still. But things happen in life, you get busy, and I trusted my dumb cubicle-mate Sally to walk it down to the mail room before it closed at 3:30 for the weekend, and she blew it, so I had to mail it myself, and on the drive home there just wasn't really a good place to do it, and the next morning wasn't any better, so Jesus didn't get a card. Big deal. I mean, the thought was there, and like I said, I can prove it because I kept the receipt which shows when I bought it. So I know three weeks is a long time to wait to call, but it's better than never, right? Anyway, I guess I sounded weird telling Jesus that I could prove I bought a card as soon as that whole thing went down and that I could prove it by showing him the receipt sometime, because he got all quiet and just said, "Hey, you know, whatever," and sort of rushed me off the phone with some excuse. So I asked him if now that he had ascended into heaven as the Savior, he'd have the same cell phone number, and he was like, "Um, no, it changed, I'll get it to you sometime." Get it to me sometime? He couldn't give it to me right then? So I know he's angry. Well, I forget things, I'm human, okay? I know it'll blow over and I shouldn't concern myself with it, but it's weird how you can just tell from someone's voice that maybe they're getting a big head. Obviously things are going to be different now that Jesus is pretty much the Big Man, but you know, when Mitch Gussey and his band recorded that single that played for a long time on some college radio stations, he still kept in touch with me and was pretty much the same cool dude. So hopefully Jesus is going to keep it real too. It just didn't sound like he was off to a good start with, you know, the whole attitude.




Well, once again, I stand in front of you a chastened man. We have all gone through so much together, yet I cannot help but feel betrayed, and perhaps even a little regretful that I call so many of you my friends. For once again, I was the only one making any kind of effort to honor this year's National Poetry Month.

"Oh, yeah, National Poetry Month," I remember all of you saying to me individually, and once, during Disco Bowl just before the lights on the sides of the lanes were turned on at midnight, as a group. "Yeah, let's do something for that, let's do an open mike night or something." And yet I look now at the calendar, and it speaks only of disinterest and broken promises. National Poetry Month is gone, and with it, yet another treasured opportunity to acknowledge poetry's role in our lives and pay our respects to its creators and the legions whom those gallant souls have touched and affected throughout history. Would it have really bothered any of you if, instead of going out to see Mission Impossible 3 last Friday, we had gotten together at Starbucks, each bringing a single poem that we call a favorite, and shared them with each other? Was the Wednesday crabcake dinner and Trivia Triathlon at Peck's Pub completely necessary when just four blocks away, the Textile Museum was staging a reading by prominent Hispanic poet Jose Herquiquez? And God forbid we should skip one of Randy's many beer-soaked barbecues so we can take a few hours and have what would have been a total blast setting one of Wallace Stevens's early works to guitar music. We could have recorded our project with Sally's video camera and given copies to our families for Christmas, for Christ's sake! I even re-charged the battery and bought blank tape for it! Total financial cost to me: four dollars. Total cost to my time and my dignity: immeasurable.

I guess I just don't see how we can stumble so blithely through life without recognizing such a beautiful and life-altering art form. Maybe I'm not really meant to hang out with people who don't share my passions. I fear we will never speak or associate in any way ever again. Oh, I know, you'll say that poetry is not my "passion" just because I never write any, never talk about it, and can't name that many actual poets. Well, as I think I've explained to you all again and again, it's not exactly easy to stay passionate about something when your bitchy manager at the Yankee Candle Company keeps making you work weekends no matter how many times you tell her you want a Saturday off once in a while. Let me remind you that I bought Magnetic Poetry before any of you had even heard of it, and that I was the one who used it to create that cute little verse about apples which I left on Susan's fridge in the wee hours of her birthday party. I've waited three years to take credit for that gem, and now I would like a little recognition. But all that's immaterial to the real issue here, which is that you all never had any real intention of helping me honor National Poetry Month, did you? It was all lip service. Well, I guess I can safely assume that asking you all to pitch in five hundred dollars so I can get a good web site and start selling my homemade bumper stickers online was lip service too. Fine. We'll see what happens when you really need my friendship next. We'll just see. Suck it, you lames. I hope your heads all explode like that guy in Scanners.


For Mature Eyes Onl----Nah, Go Ahead.

All right, I admit it. I've had sex.

Look, I thought it would be just the one time---and I swear to God, I tore up my voter registration card the morning after---but tragically, it hasn't stopped. And we need to talk about this right now. Because frankly, I worry about myself. Yes, I worry about myself and my, shall we say, FREAKISH PERVERSIONS.

Just between you and me, things were getting a little bit stale recently with my dear wife Pippagail. (You've all met Pippagail. She's had a tough week, poor thing, she got sucked into the de-humifidier again.) Anyway, things were getting a little stale between us in my den of torso-related delights, and I really wanted to recapture that erotic spark with my wife, I really did, so I cashed in her life insurance policy and went out to find myself a hooker.

I saw Esme on the corner of Baltic Avenue and Marvin Gardens. She tilted her head just so and said, "Looking for some action, bobcat?" I crossed my arms in a jaunty way, adjusted my voice to ultra-suave mode, and said, "Well, good madam, if by 'action' you mean exchanging sexual favors for a forestated amount of American currency, I'm practically Indiana Jones."

So, yeah, she turned out to be a cop.

The next night I found Pinky.


Night after that, SusieBelle. TOTAL cop. (She was actually sitting in her police cruiser when I propositioned her.)

But finally I found Zwee. On our first night, she introduced me to a little bondage, which was.....well, most delightful.

Most delightful.

That led to some amusing experiments with....oh God, I know I shouldn't tell you this, but there was grape jam and bottled hydrogen involved. Soon I found myself subscribing to some of those fetish magazines, you know, like Celebrity Thumbs. Then for some reason I became excited by bumping my lawnmower gently into Yield signs. Shortly after that, I found I could only perform if I was being watched by a picture of Maya Angelou. My descent into the abyss was swift and sad.

One night I came home to find Pippagail at the door in lingerie. I said, "That's great, honey, but would you mind if tonight, while we make jiggly love, you dip a set of bagpipes into A1 sauce and lick them clean while singing 'Eleanor Rigby'?"

I need, um, what's the word.....oh yes: HELP.

I'm just defenseless chum now to my fetishistic desires. I'm afraid to walk down the street now for fear of passing a saddle repair shop, any store that sells watch batteries, or the.....ohmyGod....Christian Science Reading Room.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh........those straight-backed plastic chairs......mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.............

(Oh crap, I just realized my fifth grade teacher is reading this. Forget I said anything.)


And Yet Yale Rejected Me. It Makes No Sense.


My purpose: To test the common maxim "Living well is the best revenge."

My methodology: One hundred people were horribly wronged in various ways. Thirty-three were fired without cause from their jobs, thirty-three were spontaneously dumped by their significant others, and thirty-three were contacted by phone and informed that a recently discovered clerical error had rendered their high school diplomas and social security numbers invalid. One test subject had all his pants stolen and burned. The victims were then split into two groups. Each member of Group A was given five hundred thousand dollars in cash, a mansion with a heart-shaped swimming pool, and a rewarding career as second chair cellist with the Minnesota State Symphony, while those in Group B were simply given a tube sock full of goat manure and invited to bonk over the head those who had wronged them to any extent they deemed sufficient.

Results: Those who were given the means to take revenge reported 100 percent satisfaction with their assaults, whereas contentment was reported by only 34 percent of those who were made rich and admired. Seventeen test subjects failed to show up for a second day of analysis, claiming I had given them bad directions. Seventy-five percent of this absent group were deemed to be incredible dumbasses who couldn't be bothered to look for the key landmarks I had written down and even underlined in blue pen, while the other twenty-five percent were just liars.

Conclusion: This was a little bit cooler than my study of the effects of washing my feet with Dr. Pepper, but not quite as pleasing as the one where I just had people stand in their underwear and scream for hours on end for no reason at all.


The Da Vinci Code: It's Real, It's Here, and We Must Run Away Quickly

Well, let me tell you about the Da Vinci Code flick. Two and a half hours to find out that the big secret is that Jesus may not have had a beard. That's the big secret. That's what sold forty million books. Don't get me wrong, I liked the movie, especially the part where the guy from Turner and Hooch got whaled on, and then the guy from Shakespeare whaled on somebody else. But I really don't see how Christ's facial hair affects the teachings of the Catholic Church. There's also some historical inaccuracies that apparently only I noticed. For one thing, the Titanic was not a dirigible, despite what some so-called 'experts' have claimed, and to have the main characters flying around on it from Stockholm to Paris to Tampa is just asking me to suspend too much disbelief. Also, George Gervin was the NBA's single-season scoring leader only four times, not six as the movie goes to great labors to claim. When the guy from Bachelor Party said that on screen, I almost left the theater. I wouldn't have cared much, except they made it a major plot point. Anyway, if you don't want me to ruin the ending for you, don't read the next sentence. Okay, the ending is, the cryptosymbolozoochiatrist's hot French girlfriend knocks the dynamite out of the mummy's hands just seconds before he can throw it into the men's room at the Vatican and kill the Pope, and then the guy from those few episodes of Family Ties where he played Alex's alcoholic uncle walks off with her, and she says to him, "Feel like going to church?" and he says, "Jesus Christ, no way am I goin' to any goddamn church!" and they both laugh and get on paddleboats and "Piano Man" plays and that's it. Nine dollars worth? Well, maybe.

Yuletide Fire Log Videos in Review

I had a slow moment, so here are some of my favorites:

Yuletide Fire Log * * *
This 30 minute video consists of a stationary shot of a burning yuletide log in a fireplace. Directed by newcomer Ruprecht Almond, it possesses a refreshing energy not usually seen in yuletide fire log videos. A slow zoom about fifteen minutes into the proceedings comes as an unexpected twist, lending the log a credibility it might not otherwise have had. Well done.

Yuletide Fire Log 2 * * * 1/2
Ruprecht Almond's follow-up to his 1987 yuletide fire log is one of the few sequels that surpasses the original. This time, his 30-minute stationary shot features twice as many slow zooms, and the sound of the crackling log virtually leaps off the screen. This reviewer found himself pleasantly dozing only ten minutes in, a sign that the director truly knows his stuff. The end of the video, in which the log burns to almost nothing, is both poignant and realistic.

Yuletide Fire Log 3 * * * *
Eight years in the making, Ruprecht Almond's masterpiece surpasses the length of any known yuletide fire log video. At two hours and fourteen minutes, its vivid colors and haunting assembly of Christmas carols (including "Jingle Bells" and "The Little Drummer Boy") strike a chord deep within the viewer's soul. This time around, Almond has dispensed with slow zooms entirely, replacing that now-clichéd technique with the dramatic appearance of a human hand at the one-hour mark, a hand which turns the log over exactly once and then withdraws in a finely tuned moment of suspense. Highly recommended.

Yuletide Fire Log 4 * * * 1/2
Ruprecht Almond, acknowledged master of the yuletide fire log video, breaks down all boundaries of the genre with this puzzling, frustrating, yet ultimately brilliant piece of work. Instead of giving us a stationary shot of the log, Almond has interspersed dozens of wrenching testimonials of Korean War veterans who actively participated in the burning of small villages outside Ngoc Tran in 1954. Simplistic Christmas carols are not to be heard at all; instead, futuristic works by Brian Eno and the Estonian avant-garde composer Arvo Pärt dominate the mood. The brief fourteen-minute video ends with the log collapsing in on itself as the camera backs away to reveal that it has never actually been inside a true fireplace, but rather a strange, elaborately painted chamber where a ring of psychics holds hands and chants in preparation for the end of humanity by global warming. Given the 2001 Director's Guild of America Award for Best Experimental Yuletide Fire Log Video, this one has its admirers and detractors, but few can deny it is definitely worth the $7.95 sale price.

Hot Heat * *
Ruprecht Almond abandoned his dominance of the yuletide fire log video format to direct this action comedy starring Will Smith as the head of a special police unit created to crack down on uniform violations in a professional women's volleyball league. It has its moments.

For My Sacrifice, My Valor, I Get Hosed

Well, I just don't get the government and their screwups. I got a Vietnam induction notice in the mail last week. It said I had to report for my physical the next day, so I went down to the address I was supposed to go to, but it wasn't even an office anymore, it was a T.G.I. Friday's. So I took the 82 bus all the way down to the office of the Army or whatever it was and showed them the notice. They said it was just an accident, that it should have gotten to me in 1970 and the mail must have held it up and that I should ignore it. But I said Look, I didn't come all the way down here for nothing, so I'm going to Vietnam to serve my country, and that's that. So the lady behind the desk, who was pretty nice, said Okay, and that I should take the induction notice down the hall to Sergeant Franks. He looked it over and said if I really wanted, I could get on a C-55 transport jet to Hanoi because one was going there to take some slightly damaged Edie Brickell CDs over to give to some orphanage or something. So I got on the jet with everybody looking at me real funny and seventeen hours later we were in Vietnam, and I got off and took my notice down the road from the airfield to the military affairs attache. He said I should really just forget about the whole thing, it was an honest paperwork mistake blah blah blah, and he said as long as I was here I should enjoy the local culture and the booming economy and so forth, but I told him I hadn't spent seventeen hours on a transport jet to go to some museums and buy stuff, and that I was as qualified as anybody to fight, so I was going to fight. He gave in and said that if I gave him a half hour to make some calls, he would find something for me to do, and he sent me across the street to a Starbucks to wait for him to come over and give me the lowdown on my deployment. Well, guess what. Three hours went by and the guy never showed up. So I got in a cab and I asked the driver if he knew of anywhere I could go where the grunts were really getting into it with Charlie, but he didn't seem to know what I was talking about, because he just took me downtown and dropped me off in front of a theater where Hairspray was being performed by some road company. I guess he thought I was just another tourist. How insulting. I just gave up and came home. There's bureaucracy for you. It's a wonder we handled the occupation in Iraq so easily when you consider the people running the show.

I, Of Course, Take None of the Profits

Friend and Neighbor, you can----and will----endure with this special offer.

You know, in this life, we're confronted by so many challenges to our faith. It's tough sometimes to find peace when we're so busy with our jobs and our families. And for some people, it's even harder to understand that God has a plan for us whatever occurs in our lives. Once in a while, we have to endure depression, tragedy, hard luck, and sometimes, freak accidents. That's why Itco International is so happy to tell you about a very special CD collection filled with inspirational songs that will get you through the hardest of times.

God Will Make It Okay That I Don't Have Any Thumbs offers you more than 700 CDs and over 8,400 songs that will renew your soul and revitalize your family. Just read these testimonials from people who bought the collection and whose hearts were rewarded by it:

Harry Noseheinz, age 34, unemployed butcher
When that pelican got into that voting booth somehow and bit off my thumbs, it seemed like God had abandoned me. Every time I looked down at my eight fingers, and nothing sitting there beside them, I lost a little more of my faith. But then I heard track #44 on CD #61, a song called The Thumbless Will Sit Beside My Throne, and I realized that Jesus hadn't abandoned me when my thumbs did. He'd given me an opportunity to be stronger than I was.

Yes, Harry Noseheinz found his way back to God, and so can you, no matter how badly you miss your thumbs. When Mark Bumpass was forced to cut off his own thumbs at gunpoint to repay a debt he lost gambling on the outcome of American Idol, it felt like the end of the world. But then track #96 on CD #77 changed everything.

Mr. Bumpass, age 49, unemployed butcher
I had just about thrown in the towel....well, more like pushed in the towel, because, you know, it's tough to throw anything with my thumbless hands....when I found the CD collection in the dumpster behind Tony Roma's Ribs. I took it home and I put on a random song....and it was called As Long as I Have Palms, The Sun Will Shine Again. Now I listen to that damn song thirty, forty times a day. Sometimes a hundred times a day. I quit my job just so I can listen to it. The weird thing is, it's not even that good.

When you buy the full seven hundred CD set of God Will Make It Okay That I Don't Have Any Thumbs, we'll include a special eight-hour video filled with interviews just like these, as well as a bonus CD with fourteen inspirational songs all about keeping your faith through even the worst case of pink-eye. Order it today! Operators are standing by. (Just one, actually, so you have to kind of hold on.)


Dental Plan or No Dental Plan, I May Just Hang It Up

My job blows. I was called into my boss's office today for the third time in a month. He sat me down, let out one of his patented big obnoxious sighs, and started in on the same old complaint again. Soren, he said, this job demands the kind of dedication, insight, imagination, and outside-the-box thinking that only a few truly accomplished people possess. (Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. It's posted on every available surface in the hallway.) He leafed through the latest project I submitted and just sort of shook his head. He said it was "okay", but that what VowelMasters Press was looking for was the kind of writing that tore like a bullet straight into the reader's soul. It wasn't enough (he claimed yet again) to merely move a reader, or to transport them to a faraway place, or to inflame their intellect. No no, we had to destroy their very notions of themselves and of what art could accomplish in this modern world. He said I had shown a lot of promise with my novelization of Herbie Rides Again, and just as much with my novelization of Bewitched, but that since then, the others in the office had been surpassing everything I turned in. He described Marty's novelization of The Man as "scintillating" and "challenging", even though that bloated dork barely changed a single comma from the original screenplay and even misquoted some of the dialogue between Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy! Meanwhile, Sally's work adapting School of Rock to novel form was apparently "off the chart brilliant", and even Grant's 88-page Junior Readers edition of Bruce Almighty was described by my odious superior as "something that made me proud to do what I do". (I'll give him that, actually. Grant's young adult novelizations are always single-sitting reads, but come on, the man's been doing this for thirty-one years, he's a pro.) It was our sacred responsibility, Mr. Henskey droned, to present to the public the best possible prose simulation of watching a popular motion picture in the romantic or action comedy genre---did I want to be personally responsible for literally dozens of people closing our books feeling that there was a certain something missing from the experience, thus forcing them to take out their wallets yet again to buy a movie ticket? Did I think that was just? Did I enjoy stealing from those people by leaving them unable to perfectly picture each and every scene that some poor souls had to rent on DVD to see? How would I feel if I snagged a copy of Rumor Has It from Walgreen's only to find that the writing in the novelization merely recounted the wacky hijinks endured by Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Costner rather than let me live them? The meeting ended with Henskey handing me the script for Sister Act 3 and telling me that I could either make him laugh and cry in the same sitting or start to think about writing novelizations for a publisher with lower standards. (And no WAY am I going across the street to Gallant Verb, not with Jerkface Jarrett running things. I'm not going through THAT hell again.) My father did this for a living, and his father before him, but man oh man, if the chick who came in on Tuesdays to refill our Deer Park water cooler wasn't so smoking hot, I'd seriously think about going back to creating Seek-a-Words for Sesame Street Magazine. There was a job where you could put your head down on your pillow at night and think: Today, I made a difference.

I Blinded Me With Science

I have HAD IT with this stupid time machine I made. It took me six weeks to finish and I'm just about ready to throw in the towel and drag it out to the garbage. The only reason I designed it in the first place was just so I could go back to 1990 and stop Godfather 3 from being released, but now it looks like not even that's going to happen. Every time I get in and set the controls, I wind up about twelve weeks after the dawn of creation. So I climb out and there I am, God knows where, looking at about eight thousand miles of nothing. Not even mountains. Once I walked about five miles because I was so bored and I still didn't see any water. Then I thought: Oh great, now I'm looking at a five mile trip BACK without anything to drink. Plus my iPod was having some kind of weird volume problems so I couldn't even use it on the way. I was so mad that I thought I'd screw up the future by altering one little thing I saw, thus starting a chain reaction that would result in some hideous mutation of nature or history or something, but since I only had a few rocks to play with, I wound up just drawing a tic tac toe board in the dirt. I made the Os win and I left the board there, which was probably wiped out by the wind in about ten minutes, because apparently somebody decided it would always be godawful windy after the creation of the earth. I didn't take my ChapStick with me when I went and by the time I got back to the machine my lips were toast. The only other thing I could think of to do to mess history up was to etch the words COMING SOON TO THIS LOCATION: CHICK FIL-A into a big stone I saw. I figured that would pretty much blow the mind of Olduvai man, but I only got as far as COMI before I got fed up and came back to the present. The last straw for this heap of crap was when I went through all the trouble of switching out my clock radio for a better one because I figured the FM waves from HotMix 106.3 that I was using to feed energy into the crank hose were too weak, only to find out that all this did was to send me back to the exact same time except wearing a Green Bay Packers sweater for some reason. I stepped out, looked down, and this cheap sweater from Kohl's that I bought in 1985 and lost a year later was on my torso. What the hell? That was it. So I'm done. If anybody wants this thing, it's the thing with the black garbage bag over it next to the big blue trash can out front. You only get to truly master one thing in this life, so I guess for me it's always going to be splitting the human personality into pure good and pure evil with a noxious elixir I call Captain Go's Strawberry Yeah!.

Sinister Elements, Dastardly Deeds, and Hallmark

All I did was try to send my mother that cute e-card that shows a pickle in a swordfight with a jar of olives while Mount St. Helens erupts and "Aqualung" plays in the background, and I got this message kicked back to me instead:

Dear citizen:

We regret to inform you that as part of the Department of Homeland Security's program to combat terrorism, which, as you know, is the number one thing you should be worried about every second of the day, far more than the economy or the health care system or immigration or social security, we have temporarily confiscated the Mother's Day card you attempted to send to your mother/father/son/wife/caregiver. The card is being screened for text which might fit our profile of Al-Qaeda operatives. This confiscation was made necessary when suspicious chatter led our agents to believe there may be a plan in place to fill the St. Louis arch with creamed corn.

Your card will be released for your intended recipient's enjoyment no later than July 7, 2009. At that time, if they wish to see it, they need do nothing more than state their demand in writing through an attorney and send it to: Evidence, Box 88993, Pueblo, Colorado, 79180. An appointment will be set for them to observe the card through a thick pane of glass for no longer than five (5) minutes, after which it will be reduced to ashes through a chemical erosion process.

Thank you for continuing to be an American! For more information on how you can single-handedly give the Christian right a permanent foothold in our nation's higher courts, simply call the White House directly and ask to speak to our sales department.


The Fellas

The Curse of Having Eyes

Well, I was going to fill this space with an absolutely fascinating blog entry about why people in Knipton, Nebraska are so much more intelligent than people in Wheatip, Nebraska (and I know, I know, you've heard that from me a million times, but I swear to God, if you saw how people in Wheatip hold an orange, you'd just up and die). Now all that has flown right out the window, and my night has been completely ruined. Ruined because I just saw the world's ugliest dude standing in the parking lot of my apartment building. This is not an exaggeration, dear friend: I just saw the world's ugliest dude out there in the parking lot. And let me preface this by saying that I love all peoples, from the selfless Mennonites of southern Pennsylvania to the drunken butt freaks of Reno, Nevada---but this dude's face was just uncalled for. It looked like, I swear to God, someone started to make a pizza from scratch and just gave up halfway through. This guy made it over the evolutionary hump by mere seconds. The light was yellow, and he floored it and just made it through the intersection. Imagine if you will a countenance so ghastly, they have to cancel the World Series this year, simply because---and I know it's difficult to get your mind around this---but simply because it was discovered that this face exists somewhere on the planet.

Okay, that's enough of that. Let's get back to business. I was standing in 7-11 yesterday deciding whether to buy a Twix and a Charleston Chew, and---

No, I'm sorry. I can't get past the face. It was UGLY, I say. I beseech you to now use your imagination to envision a secret medical compound in Helsinki, where a world-renowned team of reconstructive surgeons labors around the clock for a month on the face, after which the lead surgeon takes the podium at a live press conference beamed around the world to millions of horrified onlookers, and he says, "Yes, we've been working on the face for thirty-two straight days, and we think we now have something approaching TOM WAITS."

That is the kind of ugly I am trying to convey to you.

Entertain for just a second, dear reader, the notion that the act of even speaking about the face causes time to move backward to a moment when the first existing strands of DNA look into the future and exclaim, "As the building blocks of the entire human species, we have a responsibility to remain dormant for the next seventy million years lest one unsuspecting person lay eyes on the stupefyingly nasty mug that shall drift one night like an accursed ghost ship through an apartment parking lot somewhere in the eastern United States!!"

To recap: I am just not happy with the fact that I was witness to this man's visage. (I apologize for hitting you. There was no call for that.)

Drum Roll Optional, But Preferred

Allow me to introduce myself, prospective wife-to-be. My name is Soren. And I want to be your wanting. I call this little introduction to me


Yes, potential soulmate, you're not reading just another blog entry. You're about to get a glimpse inside the soul of one of America's leading bachelors. That bachelor is me, and for this glimpse, I hope you're wearing sunglasses. Because it's really intense. The soul glimpse I just mentioned, I mean. It might hurt your eyes, that's the metaphor.

Oh, I'm not saying I'm the greatest catch around, that I'd make a good long-term partner, or even that I can read at a ninth grade level. But if you talk to every girl who's ever dumped me, they'd all say there's something about me they just couldn't resist. It can't be explained by science, and it can't be quantified by even the most powerful Radio Shack calculator. I call this mysterious X factor, simply:


America's greatest bachelor didn't start out that way. Biologically engineered under the auspices of the KGB's Coriolis Project, I was designed to be a covert assassin responsible for the murder of key North Korean cabinet members. But sometimes, when biologically engineering an assassin, certain synthetic chromosomes are exposed for just a few seconds too long to the gluconium isotope. The result is not a killer....but a lover. I look back at the government's attempts to break my spirit and reclaim my artificial soul as some of the fondest days of my life, but they're gone now, and I walk this existence alone. And I'm not just satisfied with any life of romantic intrigue anymore. My interests range from long walks on the beach to dancing to techno music to the lost art of yogurt combing.

Now you may, via the Internet, have heard the rumor that I can do a pushup with just my nose. And I know you're probably thinking what so many doctors have gone on record as saying:


Well, fine then. I have many other hobbies. Skipping is something I do to keep in touch with my inner child, and it's something I've become very serious about. Now I know you're thinking what so many doctors have gone on record as saying:


Well, fine, that may be a scientific fact. But when I was ridiculed for my skipping tendencies, I responded the only way I knew how: with a fighting spirit. Even now I can see the headlines from that time in my mind:




Once again I was challenged to put the past behind me, and I did it. My crowning triumph, the scaling of the face of Rhode Island's tallest chain movie theater, restored me to national glory and set in stone once and for all my legacy of merit and deserve-ifying of praise.

Of course, I don't relish having to be great every day of my life. Sometimes I need to just be a regular guy. Like most people, I like to pet dogs and hamsters and cats and gerbils and mice and geese and swans and birds and ducks and fish and parrots, or just lie in the park for several days straight. When it comes time to kick some ass, though, I'm always ready to go. Immortality? Yeah, I guess I'm ready for it. If you won't take my word for it, how about this for an endorsement:

JESUS CHRIST (SAVIOR, SUPERSTAR): I, Jesus Christ, fully endorse Soren to any prospective female wishing to find an excellent stay-at-home husband.

In sum, you'd be a worthless moronic blazing idiot to pass up these goods. Just going on one date with me is like careening out of control on the highway in a car that's much too small on pavement that's littered with scissors and firecrackers. There's no real word for this kind of experience, so I had to make one up:


In short, ladies, your wanting is what I want. Bring it on!

With Two Simple Words, My Calls Are Screened Forever

I went up to my friend McClarty yesterday. We had the following exchange of dialogue:

ME (wearing a pained expression, obviously greatly troubled): Guess what?
McCLARTY (concerned): What?
ME (cheerfully): Chicken butt!

There followed peal after peal of delighted laughter from myself. Not so much from McClarty. But that's what makes the Chicken Butt gag the funniest joke ever. Consider its power: Firstly, it is so breathtakingly asinine that its emission from a thirty-six year old mouth provides a sudden jolt of the bizarre, a glancing blow to reality that leaves witnesses agog. Secondly, it is as nonsensical as any gag can be, as my answer to the poor rube's simple one-word query satisfies not one shred of his or her intent in posing it. The enthusiastic response "Chicken butt!" can in no way aid or complete any possible discussion on any possible topic that might have been raised by the "Guess what?" question. The phrase has no verb to go with it and so it just hangs there in the air like a balloon of unfulfilled promise. A full, delicious half second passes between its delivery and the rube's realization that there's nothing more to come. In that half second, his entire world collapses in a defeated heap as he sees that precious moments of his life have just been utterly wasted. Thirdly, the whole thing does what all the best jokes do: it makes a person who is otherwise having a completely normal, productive day into an accomplice in its idiocy. Merely by saying "What?", poor McClarty became part of the joke, indelibly entwined in its web of irrelevance, causing the cold splash of water that is "Chicken butt!" to go all over himself, leaving me unscathed and perhaps even spiritually renewed. He literally asked for it. He's the one embarrassed for getting suckered; not me. No court of law in this land would be able to deny that the whole thing could have been avoided had McClarty not opened his wordhole and provoked the mental violence that ensued. And finally, what puts the icing on the cake is that I rewarded a friend's polite interest in me by permanently destroying his faith in me forever. In the blink of an eye, his regard for me plummeted to heretofore unimagined depths as I made it clear that during all the time he's known me, he's been horribly unaware that he has been dealing with a total moron. I've erected an unscalable wall of mistrust between us, for if I can come out with something so catastrophically stupid, who's to say that any further communication between us will not similarly be corrupted by my stunningly petty immaturity?

Oh, man. Chicken butt. Genius.

Tales From the World of Stone-Based Publishing

I probably missed a good chance to become famous when I turned down a request from God back in the day. I was sitting there minding my own business when I heard his voice boom down on me from above, which was always a bad sign. He said he had fashioned a set of commandments which the men and women of Earth would have to live by, and that it would be up to me to transcribe them to stone and present them to the masses. I was initially okay with this, and I asked him how many commandments there were. He said there were three hundred and fourteen of them. He'd broken them down into seventeen categories. And each of those categories had four sub-categories. I guess he noticed me rolling my eyes a little, because he instantly got a little defensive. I asked him to give me an example of what we were talking about. He read off Commandment #131. It was "Thou shalt inch forward into the intersection when waiting to make a left turn on a green light so as to keep traffic flowing." Which to me didn't sound like it was really necessary as, you know, a commandment. But I held my tongue. He gave me another one: "Thou shalt not throw four balls to any batter, lest he take first base."

I had to give it to God straight. I said he was going to have to whittle this list down a bit, because 1) etching letters into stone was not the easiest thing to do, and 2) people were busy, their attention spans weren't like they used to be before the invention of written language. My feeling was that he should focus on ten core commandments. Ten: easier to remember, metric-system friendly. He whined about this. He said he had ten commandments just about cleaning up after your dog. I asked him to lay out the most important ones. "Thou shalt not kill" sounded fine---four words and done, don't kill things, a concrete directive. But then the next one was something about not committing adultery. It sounded catchy, but obviously unfair. I suggested he allow people a little wiggle room on that one, like maybe "Thou shalt not commit adultery five times" or "with children in the next room." He wouldn't listen to reason, though. And he wanted to have one about remembering the Sabbath day, but again, I figured why get all up in people's faces about it with formal legislation when there were day planners for that kind of thing. Then there was "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain." I couldn't believe this was actually a problem for God. I mean, did he want to send everyone to hell? Did he want a planet totally emptied of human beings, with everyone burning down below, because my view was that if he included the name-in-vain thing, it was basically going to be him and sheep left up here. After that, we just went back and forth for a while and he finally yelled at me to pare the list down myself if I was so damn smart. I took it and I left it somewhere, who knows where, and Moses wound up getting credit for presenting that crap to the masses. Not to brag or anything, but if I had really applied myself, I could have cut that freaking list down to two commandments. Missed opportunities, story of my life.

Call Me an Instigator If You Wish

Service people tick me off sometimes. I went down to Jed's Fix-It today with a valid problem, and it became a scene. All I wanted was for Jed to take a look at a double scoop of Double Fudge Chocolate in a cake cone. It was a little top-heavy, and there had been some pretty heavy melting toward the bottom. He said he could probably freeze it up for me and transfer some of the bottom scoop to the top, and that maybe he could have it done by Friday, but it would be tight. (They always say that.) For the freezing and the scoop alteration, it would only be like eighty bucks. Not too bad, right? So then I very casually ask him about a Magic Shell problem I'd been having at home. I'd put a lot of it on some strawberry ice cream, and I know I put on way too much, big deal, who hasn't? So Jed asked if I had put so much on there that it didn't even fully harden, and I said Yeah, and he sighed and shook his head. I asked him if it could be saved, because I just KNOW my insurance company would screw me over if it was totaled. So then he launched into this big thing about how I would have to bring it in and he would really have to get in there in look around and MAYBE remove the non-hardened Shell from around the edges and re-freeze the whole thing, but he claimed Magic Shell didn't respond well to re-freezing and the balance might get thrown off. At which point he asked me if I had gotten any jimmies or sprinkles under the pile. Now look, I admit it, I didn't really know how the whole thing was put together. Who does? I'm paying HIM to be the expert. And Jed went off about how people came in constantly, wanting to eat ice cream all day long but not wanting to spend a single hour figuring out how it works. It was really insulting. He said that because I hadn't done any routine maintenance up front, he might have to completely overhaul the entire thing, replace the old strawberry with new strawberry (and of course, he wanted to use Breyer's instead of Lucerne for the first ten or twelve bites, as if I have that kind of money), and maybe even replace the whole dish! He made up some lie about how there might be some residual staining after the transfer, blah blah blah---please, what am I, an idiot? So I said Fine, fine, when can I bring it in? At which point he told me this total whopper about how he had a whole lopsided ice cream cake up on the lift for Sunday, and then he had to re-arrange the flavors in somebody's banana split and cut out the brown spots on the banana....he wound up telling me it might be two WEEKS before he got to it. Now you just KNOW this would wind up being a three hundred dollar job, so I told him I was taking my business elsewhere and that I didn't care for his dishonesty. I'm just sick of being taken advantage of. Is that wrong?

Because Books Are My Sworn Enemy

I keep getting these magazine offers in the mail, and I definitely want to get a few. I've narrowed it down to these:

Mine Field Gardening

Mind-Numbingly Easy Seek-a-Words

The Journal of Statistical Probability that Val Kilmer Will Ever Be in Another Good Movie

Celebrity Death Profiteer

Dice Week (the last issue had a pretty good article about dice theft and reviews of the new locking systems)

Jobs for Goddamned Idiots

If I Were Harry Dean Stanton (mostly just essays, kind of dry)

The New Yorker Translator (it tells you what the hell The New Yorker is talking about)

Retired Embalmer

Lottery Agony (the journal of recovery for those who miss winning the lottery by no more than 2 numbers)

Newsweek for Newborns

The New York Times Review of Lame Novels Written by Self-Inflated Newspaper Columnists

Bullying Little League Parent

Receipt Tape Designer

Free Enterprise Makes My Brain Hurt

Boy, did I make a bad move hooking up part-time with the PleasurePuss Gift Basket Corporation of America. Last week I had to resort to buying myself a Teddy Ruxpin basket with the lavender lilies arranged in a heart shape just to meet my monthly quota of two sales so I could keep my Sunshine Points total above water, and Barry Schilling, my regional account representative, sent me this letter in the mail:

Dear Space Waster:

If you don't mind putting down your spit-soaked copy of whatever collection of Garfield cartoons you checked out from the library for a second, let me have your attention. The home office has assigned me the duty of finding out if there's a single living breathing human being attached to the dysfunctional spinal cords working for our sales force. And they want me to trim the tree, queer-bait, before the roots get clogged up with the pus of your incompetence! This company is being stunk up by a load of incontinent infants who've been shamelessly sucking on PleasurePuss's overgenerous teat, and it's gonna STOP, you sack of crap! PleasurePuss Baskets is about SALES, and YOUR sales figures, you egg-eater, aren't fit to scrub my toilet! Looks like you sold two baskets this month. TWO BASKETS, you road apple. If I sold two baskets in one month, I wouldn't feel man enough to ask my MOMMY to wipe the FROST-SNOT out of my SCARF. Let me make this perfectly clear: the Lord's not gonna help you out of this box of bees, sugar pie. If you don't start selling some damn gift baskets, I'm gonna take back my ORANGE-ADE and kick you out of the TREEHOUSE. No one works for this company who doesn't PRODUCE. I realize you only work part-time, but fortunately for you, it only takes one hour a week to be COMPLETELY USELESS.

You've got the products. The Honeybunch Lavender basket. The Penny-For-Your-Thoughts Whitman's Choco-Kiss. The Roses-For-Noses Sniffy Treat Sampler. We've given you the combination to the freaking wall safe of PARADISE, you TAPEWORM, and you couldn't sell a night of cheap sex to Carmen Electra! You think the customers talk to you because you keep the hair in your nose nice and neat? They want to BUY! Close the deals or throw some Wheat Thins in a backpack and hit the ROAD!

Oh, I 'm sorry, have I offended you with my blunt talk? I really do apologize. Why don't I leave you in peace, you crotch-zombie, so you can cash in the NICKEL you generated this month for a ZIGGY NOTEPAD and then write about it in your DREAM JOURNAL. PleasurePuss is tired of changing your bedpan! Sell or get out of the sandbox!

You may at this point be asking yourself: Who is this horrible man to talk to me this way? Well, why don't we multiple choice that one, cowboy? A) I'm Santa Claus. B) I'm Art Garfunkel. C) I'm the guy who's gonna eat your LUNGS with lemon juice and CILANTRO if you let ONE MORE DAY go by without getting Klem Kaddiddlehopper and his suckerheaded beach ball of a New Jersey housewife to scrawl out a check for a Best of Celine Dion Music Box! Fill in your answer circle completely, WANG-MUNCH!

I suppose I could just FIRE your ass right now, but cutting the loser ratio by one tenth of one percent won't save me the trouble of having to write to all the other morons who have been sodomizing the corporation. So I'm giving you a chance. We're having a little sales contest. This month, the person who sells the most Peek-a-Boo I Choose You Taffeta Gumdrop Baskets gets to keep their job. I might even let you drink from the hose in front of my house. Second place gets CANNED IMMEDIATELY. Either you take the rock to the hole, or I'm gonna use your soul as a potty chair! Move the freaking Pippi Longstocking Peppermint Popcorn Petunia Wreaths out of the warehouse or go sell spices for those feebs at the March of Dimes! Or do neither and just sit around making yourself 'Smores all day, I don't FREAKING CARE, but unless I see some crooked numbers come across my desk in the next forty-eight hours, you're goat dung to me, UNDERSTAND?


My friend Janie from church got the same letter and she started to cry! We both sent Mr. Schilling our resignation notes today. Maybe we can make some extra money washing mailboxes.

It's Usually Better to Just Charter a Sit 'n' Spin

Having traveled across this country on the three major modes of transportation, I've made a few observations about the differences between them, and here they are:

AMERICAN AIRLINES: The sight of a jumbo jet inspires awe every time it takes off
AMTRAK: The sight of a locomotive inspires fond memories every time its engine roars
GREYHOUND: The sight of a dead octopus hanging off the grille inspires another driver performance review

AMERICAN AIRLINES: Strong safety record in general makes riders feel secure
AMTRAK: Occasional derailments do not detract from decent safety history
GREYHOUND: Twenty riders or less maimed per interstate trip is deemed in company literature to be "acceptable shrinkage rate"

AMERICAN AIRLINES: Provides reasonably tasty and nutritious first class meals
AMTRAK: Dining car offers modest selection of tolerably priced lunches and dinners
GREYHOUND: Condom machine in Detroit terminal once freakishly spat out a whole cabbage

AMERICAN AIRLINES: Submits names of repeat customers for membership in Platinum Travel Club
AMTRAK: Submits names of repeat customers for membership in Gold Pass Club
GREYHOUND: Submits names of people who ride twice or more in one year for consideration on Fear Factor

AMERICAN AIRLINES: Every attempt is made to keep bathrooms on plane clean
AMTRAK: Understaffing can cause some untidiness problems in restrooms
GREYHOUND: Seventy percent of all atheists magically recall the Lord's Prayer upon opening the bathroom door

AMERICAN AIRLINES: Proposed motto: "We'll fly you into the future---today"
AMTRAK: Proposed motto: "The train, it's here to stay"
GREYHOUND: Proposed motto: "Dude, the pictures in the brochure are, like, what IF things were like that?"

AMERICAN AIRLINES: Financial health rides on uneasy tides of airline industry
AMTRAK: Dubious government assurances seem to promise survival for the next decade
GREYHOUND: Will flash breasts for a string of beads

AMERICAN AIRLINES: Uses technology to boost aircraft speeds, improve air traffic control, and refine ticketing procedures
AMTRAK: Uses technology to increase on-time rates, simplify engine diagnostics
GREYHOUND: CEO proposed purchase of electric calculator in 1997; still on backorder at the warehouse

AMERICAN AIRLINES: Pilots began by dreaming as children of commanding huge aircraft across the Atlantic
AMTRAK: Conductors began by dreaming as children of guiding trains through the scenic Alps
GREYHOUND: Drivers began by dreaming as children of swallowing however many reds it would take to keep their friggin' eyes open through Nebraska

AMERICAN AIRLINES: New nationwide TV ad campaigns begin every six months or so
AMTRAK: Occasional TV ad campaigns introduced when business gets truly slow
GREYHOUND: Spamming campaigns launched whenever AOL account is paid up

AMERICAN AIRLINES: Customer satisfaction is number one priority because of intense competition
AMTRAK: Customer satisfaction suffers somewhat from lack of competition
GREYHOUND: Term "customer" used interchangeably by employees with phrase "that fat bitch in the parka"

AMERICAN AIRLINES: Slashes prices during off-peak travel season
AMTRAK: Slashes prices during times of lowered revenue
GREYHOUND: Kind of squeamish about the word "slash" after what happened with those five ticket agents in Tampa

AMERICAN AIRLINES: Has a few of the same characteristics as train travel.
AMTRAK: Has a few of the same characteristics as bus travel.
GREYHOUND: Has exactly the same characteristics as short bus travel.

My Nobel Prize Should Be Forthcoming

Now the swinging bridge
Is quieted with creepers...
Like our tendrilled life.

There's nothing like a good haiku, is there? Of course not. The very notion that there could be anything better than a good haiku is patently absurd. The problem is, I never have the time anymore to burn up entire afternoons composing and reciting haikus, getting nothing else done, wondering where my life went. Well, at least that was before I joined the thousands of people across America who have found a better way to enjoy haikus in half the time!

It turns out that Japanese scientists, after forty years of research, have come up with new eight-syllable haikus! That's right, eight syllables! Imagine writing all the haikus you want and still having time to take the family out to dinner, enjoy a Hollywood movie, or work in the yard! It used to be that I had to spend seventeen syllables on a haiku---and what did I get for my efforts? Blank stares and regrets that there weren't enough hours left in the day to even bathe or brush my teeth! But last November I read an article about Itco International's patented system of developing eight-syllable Haikus for less than you might spend on a used car! I'm already the envy of friends and relatives as I stand in gloomy chain coffeehouses and rip through twice as many haikus as I ever have! Why, just check this one out:

Cloudy day, evermore....

Not bad, eh? Now try an experiment. Recite this haiku to yourself, then spend the time you have left over pursuing a neglected hobby, or even learning a trade!

How's this for a success story: I wrote just five hundred and seven haikus in the first eleven months of 2005, but I've already written three hundred and eighty since December! I've used all the extra time I've saved to make friends playing Stratego! You can find out more information about more than doubling your haiku speed by visitng Itco's web site, or just look out the windows of your home to spot one of their hundreds of thousands of roving customer service representatives! They even have haiku franchising opportunities! I'm excited!